Kosinki’s third novel, Being There, is a fable about a perfect language, one that captivates the listener while revealing nothing of the identity of the speaker. The book, Kosinski’s shortest, continues his analysis of the embryonic writer testing one new language after another until he discovers the one that both ends his victimization and confers power. Chance, the protagonist, is a simpleminded gardener at a rich man’s house. The garden is a refuge: “It was safe and secure in the garden, which was separated from the street by a high, red brick wall.” Chance has no self-consciousness and has spent his life watching television. He has no concept of a reality outside his garden and the safe confines of the television tube. Yet he is handsome and well-dressed (with the suits from his now-dead benefactor), and when he is cast out of his garden, he is slightly injured by a limousine carrying a wealthy woman, EE, who befriends him.
Assuming that Chance is as intelligent as he is handsome, EE brings him to her home and introduces him to her husband, the industrial magnate Benjamin Rand, who is slowly dying. All Chance can talk of is the world of his garden, but his statements seem somehow incisive—even prophetic—to his eager listeners. Soon he is the guest of the president of the United States and becomes a talk-show celebrity, and at the book’s end he is being considered as a vice-presidential candidate. This implausible and amusing...
(The entire section is 507 words.)